Friday's Weekend Column
What Do You Do, At Twenty Below Zero?

by James Glaser
January 23, 2004

The sky is slate gray and the wind is blowing straight out of the north. The thermometer out side our door points to minus 21 and even the birds are staying home. There is no movement on the lake, the almost ever present ice fishermen didn't make it today.

So what is there to do? The workshop will take hours to heat up to a working temperature and as you look over there you can see that the snow has drifted in the road. Every where you look the weather is telling you to stay indoors. No school for the kids today and I'm not about to travel the snow packed roads.

Reading on a cold winter day is always nice, but you feel like you should try to be productive for a few hours at least. You look at that list of things to do and the only things left are the ones you have been putting off for months. Do you ever add easy, fun things to your list like I do? If you put on several small chores, it still makes you feel productive when you cross them off.

I always think of it cheating if I list things like washing the dishes or the clothes, as their presence in the sink or the full hamper tells you it is time to get busy. The same goes for vacuuming the floor. When my children were young it was not uncommon to wait until I was wearing mismatched socks before we made a trip to the Laundromat. Now with a washer and dryer some things never get worn. Of course it is true that some of those clothes that we never wear any more, no longer fit when we do try them on and they are never too big.

It looks like the only thing on the list that I can tackle today is the one that says, "clean out stuff." Stuff is something that was too good to throw away at one time, but has lost its use. Old clothes, that extra mattress that was going to be saved for the guest room that never got added on and how about that bed that went with it.

Tools, I bet I have 60 screwdrivers and today I only use my battery operated drill with a screwdriver bit. I would say we have ten extra clocks and some of them have radios. Books, we are constantly giving books to the library. Giving books to the library makes you feel good.

Now when it is this cold you can't just move this "stuff" out to the garage or some storage building, both because it is so cold and you are pretty sure all storage space is filled already. Right down the road there is a new business, they rent you storage space for all the things that you can't store at home because every space is filled. Last year I called to check out prices, but they had no more space to rent.

Yes, I have thought about having a yard sale, but do you know how much work that is and what happens if after all that work it rains? I did come up with a good plan though; none of my children have filled their house or apartment yet, so I could make them a gift of some really good Stuff. If I sent a box at each birthday and one a Christmas too, I could make a real dent in my clutter in a few years.

You know as I look around this room I can see that Charmaine's things are turning into stuff faster than mine. I need those VW Trend magazines because someday I am going to finish that bug across the road. My electric guitar and amp get used all the time, well not all the time, but they do look so cool sitting there.

Just sitting here I can count three tables and three desks. Twelve chairs and a big corner bench and then there is that oak bench upstairs and one down stairs too. Charmaine and I live here alone, but some day a whole crowd might show up.

Well it is time to get started. I have a dozen 3mil-thick Industrial Strength Contractor Demolition bags. If I just start pitching I am sure in a week neither of us will even remember what is gone. You know I do think though that most of this stuff is still pretty good.

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